Get Up & Go Guide: Bristol & Bath

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Like ancient Rome, Bristol is said to have been built on seven hills. This may be so, and those seven or more hills sure are steep, but that doesn’t stop many of Bristol’s vibrant locals getting about the city on two wheels.

If you want to do like the locals do there’s no better place to start your exploration than Cycle the City, a small company which organises bicycle tours to some of Bristol’s best sites and attractions.

Make sure you don’t leave Bristol without walking across the world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, the vision of Isambard Kingdom Brunel which was completed in 1864. Not too far from here you will find the Clifton Observatory containing both a camera obscura and a cave cut into the Avon Gorge which offers a unique view of the bridge above.

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Back at sea level another creation of Brunel’s is the historic steam ship the SS Great Britain. Just introduced this year visitors now have the opportunity to ‘Go Aloft’, climbing up the rigging like Victorian sailors. If you think that’s scary just be thankful that the ship is currently on dry dock rather than in the choppy seas of the mid-Atlantic.
For a taste of what it was like for Bristol’s sailors on the high seas, catch a ferry on the Floating Harbour. Some companies offer cruises within the city’s waterways, others take trips further afield. The water offers some of the best ways to get a fresh look at this beautiful city.

To really immerse yourself in this wonderful city stay at a Travelodge hotel and discover the best that Bristol has to offer.

Keen shoppers will find plenty to do here. For gifts for loved ones back home head to St Nicholas Market within the Old City for Bristol’s largest collection of independent retailers. Once you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop, remain in this part of town for some of the best food and drink on offer. For a hearty steak and cocktails, find The Ox on Corn Street or have a coffee break at speciality coffee shops Small Court Espresso and Full Court Press.

The West Country is known for its local ciders. Bars on boats are a bit of a Bristol specialty, so head to the water to board The Apple which offers plenty of cider on tap. If that whets your appetite head to the Bristol Cider Shop on the picturesque Christmas Steps to pick up some bottles to take home with you.

iStock_bathIf you’re looking for a day trip out of the city then there’s only one place to go: Bath. If you’re feeling up the challenge then the best way to get there is by bicycle along the Bristol & Bath Railway Path, the first of Sustrans’ National Cycle Networks ever built.
After that fitness feat, put your feet up as the Romans used to do at Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal spa. While there, don’t forget to head up to the rooftop pool for stunning views over this most picture postcard of cities.

If you happen to arrive in Bath by train, you need barely leave the station for one of the city’s best restaurants, Graze, which also has a micro-brewery on site. If it’s coffee you’re after, a short walk away is the multiple award-winning Collona & Smalls. There’s nothing about coffee that these guys don’t know. If you have time, visit the absolutely enchanting Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights to see the place that has twice been voted the Independent Bookshop of the Year.

For more information about Bristol take a look at our Get Up & Go Guide

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Martin Booth

Martin Booth is the editor of Bristol Culture, a website dedicated to finding out all the best things happening in Bristol from cinema screenings in former churches to pop-up restaurants. He has very little spare time as work and pleasure always combine, but when he does have a moment free he likes to spend it with his three-year-old daughter at one of Bristol’s numerous soft play cafes. View all posts by